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St. Arnold’s on Jefferson Place: Belgian Bliss Near Dupont Circle

by Borderstan.com July 23, 2012 at 11:30 am 0

"St. Arnold's"

A little Belgian gem: St. Arnold’s is on Jefferson Place NW south of Dupont Circle. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Aparna Krishnamoorthy. Email her at aparna[AT]borderstan.com. Follow her on Twitter @aparnakris.

I am in love with St. Arnold’s, a little gem just south of Dupont circle, located on a quiet street away from the bustle and night crowds of the area. Once I managed to find this place and entered the basement bar, I was instantly transported to an old-world neighborhood pub.

The space itself is fairly small, with beautiful dark walls, wooden tables and a long wooden bar. Named after the patron Saint of Belgian brewers, St. Arnold’s offers a solid selection of drafts and bottles, mostly Belgian and German, as well as some domestic craft beers, making it easy to please every beer palette.

More importantly however, let’s focus on the mussels. They offer a ridiculous number of preparations, all of which sound amazing. Italian sausage, peppers and tomatoes? Spicy Mexican with onions, cilantro and jalapenos? Yes please! For the mussel purists they also have a classic preparation.

But when they offer a wildly popular house specialty (St. Arnold’s with duck fat), the choice is easy. You can’t beat duck fat. I decided on that option and my dining partner got the Thai curry mussels with basil. A few minutes later, our smoking (literally) cauldrons were at the table, and the aroma upon popping the lid was heavenly.

The duck fat beer sauce with caramelized shallots, thyme and garlic is incredibly flavorful and brings out the buttery-ness of the mussels. The portions are massive, too, with about 25 mussels to a pot, accompanied by sourdough bread and frites. Do not deny yourself the happiness from dipping the bread and the fries in the sauce. Judge me all you want, but at one point, I was drinking the sauce like a soup. Amazing duck fat soup. The Thai basil sauce is light and refreshing, and served as a nice break from the richness of the duck fat.

St. Arnold’s offers half price ($9) on their mussels during Happy Hour between 4 and 6.30 pm. Go hungry and take a plunge into the best mussels ever.  

The $18 price for the huge pot of perfectly cooked mussels, bread and fries is definitely worth it. Although the happy hour ends at 6.30 pm, the 50% discount is unbelievable and warrants getting there a bit early. I foresee a lot of my winter evenings being spent in this cozy basement.

Although I was completely focused on the mussels, they also offer additional menu items, including salads and sandwiches. I was too full for dessert, but the Nutella waffle sounded delicious!

For a cozy neighborhood feel, great beer and amazing mussels, St. Arnolds is almost too good to be true.

If you have been, what are your favorites here?

St. Arnold’s on Jefferson Place: The Details

  • Where Am I Going: 1827 Jefferson Place NW (between Connecticut Avenue and 18th Street NW)
  • When Am I Going: Monday through Thursday, and Sunday, 11 am to 2 am; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 3 am. Happy Hour from 4 to 6.30 pm
  • Paycheck Pain: $18 for mussels, beers average $10.
  • Say What? Tables are fairly close together and the place can get bustling. Casual atmosphere.
  • What You’ll Be Eating: Beer and mussels.

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